The incident I am about to recount I make no judgment about, other than that I believe it tells us where we are in the cycle of civilisation and that it is helping me orientate myself.
A friend of mine was walking her dogs at the same beauty spot I walk my spaniels, when a car screeched into the car park sending children scurrying for their lives. My friend ran up and knocked on the window and the window was wound down to reveal a man in a dress and blond wig. My friend said, ‘What are you doing? You could have killed a child. Slow down!’ And the man replied, ‘But I’m a transvestite.’
My friend tried to pursue the issue, pointing out that, be that as it may, he couldn’t speed or run over children. But he countered that suggestion by bursting into tears. And at that point she had no choice. She had to desist. Her argument was defunct. She was intellectually, morally and politically beaten. The speeding transvestite had upheld his right to drive in the manner he felt most expressed him, given the cultural and societal stresses he was under. He was validated. He was beautiful in every single way. Words would not bring him down. Certainly, no farmer’s wife in wellies was going to bring him down today. And so on.
Now, for my next trick I am going to tell you about another incident that happened to me in the same vicinity the other day on my way to the horses. It was a very cold, frosty morning, minus two at 7 a.m., and I was worried about the troughs being frozen.
But a road worker flagged me down by a line of cones and attempted to stop me just shy of the field where my horses live. He told me I could go no further as they were about to start tarmacing the road. I must take a 20-minute diversion.
‘In 20 minutes the horses could be dead from dehydration colic if the tanks are frozen,’ is all I could think. So I shouted a lot of hysterical stuff about livestock that I hoped sounded baffling, adding, ‘And anyway, I know what you’re doing. You’re filling Tony’s pothole, which you should have filled years ago!’
Tony is a local guy who has been trying to get the council to fill the small pothole outside his front gate for several centuries, or so it seems.
In other words, it all became rather like an episode of The Archers — ‘This week there’s trouble down at the farm when Mel can’t get to her field to break the ice in the troughs because roadwork crews are fixing Tony’s pothole!’
It was ridiculous, but the road worker didn’t see it as ridiculous. He saw it as a Serious Situation to be addressed by recourse to the EU Road Workers’ Serious Situation While Filling A Pothole Directive [woman in a Volvo with a Countryside Alliance sticker shouting abuse] Risk Minimisation Strategy 3.5, Subsection 6.
He said, ‘You need to calm down. And you need to stop shouting.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, for goodness sake, he’s gone bureaucratic on me. I’d better stop shouting.’ And then I thought, ‘But do I need to stop shouting? Why do I? I’m inside my own car, my own property, shouting within my own jurisdiction. Do I really have to obey a road worker’s demands that I don’t upset him by raising my voice?’
The thing is, you can’t win any which way when they say that stuff about not shouting, so why try to comply? If you stop shouting, that invariably leads to them claiming that you are still shouting, which makes you protest all the more, and that leads to them accusing you of ever more newfangled offences against improbably fragile private feelings.
So in a bid to try something new today, instead of stopping shouting, I stepped up the shouting and screamed, ‘Don’t you threaten me!’
And to my surprise, he backed straight down, apologised and let me through.
Depressing, that the only way to get a mile down the road in the current climate is to take more offence than the person you’ve somehow inadvertently offended on your way.
It’s an arms race out there. You say you’re offended, my only means of escape is to say that I’m offended more.
So if I ever get into a car park row with a transvestite, I intend to burst into tears and say, ‘Oh, you’re sorted, but what about me? How do you think it feels ticking the white, straight, Christian boxes? It’s tough down here at the bottom of the equality heap. No, really, I want to lie down in front of your wheels. I know my place.’